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Sermon 6/20/10
Isaiah 42:1-3 - Justice

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Justice

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:1-3)

A few days ago, we were offered a last-minute opportunity for a bus tour to Hearst Castle, to the north of our home in California, with a stop overnight in Lompoc, after which the tour would proceed to the town of Solvang on the following day.  We said “Yes” to the offer and off we went on the tour.  After Hearst Castle and Lompoc, the first place we visited in Solvang was a mission church, and after simply sitting for a restful time in a chapel of silence and prayer, we browsed in the mission gift shop.  We enjoyed some of their plaques, including the words inscribed on one called, “Bee-Attitudes.”  We were encouraged by it to:

“Bee busy… doing what you love to do.
Bee true… to the dreams God has given you.
Bee sure… to taste the sweetness of each day.
Bee silly… giggle lots, take time off and play!
Bee bold… enough to trust your wings and fly.
Bee-lieve… the power of prayer will get you by.
Bee happy… keep your outlook bright and sunny.
Bee yourself… bee-cause you really are a honey.”

It was a great gift shop.  Another plaque contained a prayer: “Lord, please help my words to be tasteful, kind and sweet, because if they are not, they may be the ones I have to eat.

The best plaque, in my opinion, told us to take our problems and: “Hang them on the cross.”

Most people, perhaps all of us, would go back in time and change something in the past if we could.  I can look back to turning-points in life where it would be tempting to take the other “road” instead of the one I chose.  But it’s actually good that we can’t go back because what we would find is that we make bad decisions. God allowed the “road” we took and if we went back and did it differently, it’s likely things would turn out worse than they did before.  What we CAN do in relation to what we did and what was done to us is to “Hang them on the Cross,” recognizing that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins is the justice of God.

It may not seem like justice to you that Someone Innocent died so that the rest of us might live.  But thankfully for humanity, it’s not people who make the rules.  It’s God who has chosen to save us through the cross of Christ.  If we ran things, we would probably do it differently, but it’s not unlike going back in time – things would be worse if we were in charge.

When I was in college, Gayle Erwin was the Campus Pastor, and among his other duties, he arranged for chapel services each Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Pastor Gayle would often have a guest speak to us and at other times he was the speaker.  In one of those times when he spoke, he discussed what it would be like if we were the ones making the decisions about how the universe was run.  For one thing, he said, “I wouldn’t send my son, Clyde, to die for the sins of humanity.  Instead I would likely put some kind of megaphone on the moon and say in a loud voice, ‘Repent, people of earth, or die!’”  If Gayle had been in charge, if you or I had been directing things, we undoubtedly would not have sent the Son of God and there would be no sacrifice for our sins.  We would not be changed inside and our “Bee-Attitudes” would remain unacceptable in the sight of God.

The publication, “Today in the Word,” of October 8, 1992, reported that, “After the death of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, it was revealed that in the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet -- which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! -- declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come to avoid the Secret Service! (And yes, the loan was paid back).

In relation to the things of God, we are not unlike the “cat burglar” who was “going through (the) pockets” of President Coolidge.  That’s what Scripture says about us, and here are some verses that reveal our condition: “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  “When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

God views every one of us as “sinners” who are unable to adequately do anything that would save ourselves.  And if His view about our condition sounds harsh, consider the Remedy, the Solution He has provided to rescue us: “When we were still without strength… Christ died for the ungodly…” including those who lived in ancient times, those at the time the Lord was in this world, and the ones who would live in the future, including you and me.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Again, it’s what we need to see and it’s found in Romans 5:6-8.

Isaiah prophesied about the Lord Jesus, “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:1-3).  He is not loud, He does not shout at you from the moon and He does not call the secret service for help when you invade His space and go through His things.  The Father expects you to repay everything and yet He also arranged for His Son to make the payment for you.  It works something like this, for God Himself pleaded your case and you are set free:

A mother once approached Emperor Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. He replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. ‘But I don't ask for justice,’ the mother explained. ‘I plead for mercy.’ ‘But your son does not deserve mercy,’ Napoleon replied. ‘Sir,’ the woman cried, ‘it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.’ ‘Well, then,’ the emperor said, ‘I will have mercy.’ And he spared the woman's son.” (From “Experiencing God's Forgiveness” by Luis Palau).

We have the justice of God expressed through the mercy given us in His Son, who will change our unacceptable “Bee-Attitudes” for He will “Hang them on the Cross.”  He has loaned us the fare to go home and He has paid the debt Himself.  We are forgiven through the justice of God.

Forgive Me, Lord and set me free.  I trust in You now.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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